I recently read Jenna Griffin’s beautiful post “This Was the Year of Living.” Within this piece, Jenna illustrates the story of a year of travel, self-reflection and new experiences, using words to allow moments bleed together like a lovely watercolor. I felt a lot of things upon reading her piece: admiration, envy, nostalgia, loss, responsibility, the burden of age… This piece is a reflection of my own.

This was the year I didn’t.

This was the year I stayed. I stayed in a job. I stayed in a place. I stayed in a relationship (marriage, it turns out, will do that). This was the year I got up in the morning and brushed my teeth, turned on the coffee maker, washed with cleanser, added toner, dabbed on moisturizer and walked up the hill to work. I got up the next morning and turned on the coffee maker, brushed my teeth, cleansed, toned, moisturized and walked up the hill to work. This was the year I got a new pair of boots. This was the year I said, in the immortal words of Liz Lemon, “Yes to staying in more!”

This year, I cried a lot. This year, I was a lot of things I always thought were reserved for somebody else. This year, I planned a lot of meetings. I FaceTimed friends from far away. I took church directory photos. This year, I sent a lot of emails. This year, I didn’t take enough photos. This year, I built so many fires. I read so many books. I talked to a lot of angry people. This was the year I opened the curtains when I got home from work and I closed the curtains when the sun went down. This was the year I sat underneath a blanket on the corner couch. This was the year I made doctor’s appointments, just because. This was the year I tried.

This was the year I did.

This was the year of dishes and drying racks, of Christmas stockings and ice cream carton apologies. It was the year of being sure I was right, no I was definitely right, no shut up I was right, no stop I was right, no… well… oh… you were right. It was the year of speaking up, voicing dissent, wading into discomfort, not hiding behind a keyboard and a pleasant attitude. It was the year of unsweetened applesauce and sweet potato hash. The year of lonely decisions and milestone coffee dates. The year of taking the necessary step when you know you’re the only one who will see.

This year, I learned to love more people than just Lauren, and I learned to see people more fully. This year, I walked up a dune and listened to the stories of sisters who are dancing through my past in their own terrific steps. This year, I did the dishes before dinner was even done, and I turned my pants right side out before I threw them in the hamper. I decided I like lipstick. This year, I started a new camp program. This year, I performed in a play.

This was the year of savings accounts and listening better to sermons. This was the year when a “thinking of you” text starting meaning more. This was the year of clarified butter and noisy neighbors and pond skating. This was the year of happy tears and understanding. This was the year of heartfelt notes and hand squeezes and window scrapers. This was the year of autumn roads and squeaking sands and lazy rivers. This was the year I made choices and saw them through.

It’s hard and good and lovely to look back on a year like this. Living is never really what we expect it to be, is it?

Thanks to Jenna for the reminder and the reflection. Cheers to morning routines and hard work and nice husbands and faithful friends. God bless whatever comes next.

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